Everything was organic. Looking back, everything was connected with a single line.
Dedicated to a friend who showed the importance of being a challenger.

Everything was organic. Looking back, everything was connected with a single line.
Dedicated to a friend who showed the importance of being a challenger.

Filmed by Hidenori Tanaka / Edited by Tomoyuki Kujirai / Photos by Iseki / Music by Hiroshi Fujiwara

Filmed by Hidenori Tanaka
Edited by Tomoyuki Kujirai
Photos by Iseki
Music by Hiroshi Fujiwara


VHSMAG (V): You started skating in 1985, right?

Satoru Taguchi (T): Yes, if I remember right. Skating was already pretty popular in my neighborhood. You could buy boards everywhere and I got my board at a hardware store. It was a toy skateboard. My home was surrounded by hills and I would just sit on my board and go down the hills. And this older guy came powersliding down the hill with a Powell Peralta Guerrero board... He told me that my board was not real and that there are skateshops in Harajuku like Stormy and Murasaki Sports. We went there together and bought a legit board. That was the start.

V: It was all about the Bones Brigade back then, wasn't it?

T: The first video I ever watched was the Animal Chin video. We would watch it together and do slo-mo and study all the tricks. In my neighborhood, there was this weird rule that you're not allowed to buy a board that the older guys are riding. They were all tough dudes... They were riding Caballero and Guerrero, all the rad ones, so I had to buy this Japanese model called Takeshi. It wasn't even Powell Peralta... (laughs).

V: I didn't know there was such model. Who were you into back then from the Bones Brigade?

T: Steve Caballero. There was a Caballero mini board back then. I thought it was okay to ride Caballero board as long as the size was different, so I bought that (laughs).

V: You've known Tomoya Nagase of Tokio for a long time. Was he one of your skate buddies from back then?

T: Yes, he was my next door neighbor. Our parents both worked so we'd go get some sushi for dinner by ourselves and skate after that. We used to go to a construction site and ask for ply wood and nails, and built jump ramps for free. There was a hill in front of our houses so we'd cruise down it and hit the jump ramp. We were having fun with the thrill. Tomoya broke some bones from that though (laughs).

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V: So he was a hardcore skater.

T: Yes, we were both super into skating. There was a skateshop called Bad Boy Club in Fujigasaki and I entered a contest there. I think I was like in the 7th grade or something. There I met E-San (Akira Ishizawa, OG skater who passed a way in 2017) for the first time. He won the contest. I still remember this; he pulled a beautiful 360 air at the end of his run. From then, he taught me so much about skating.

V: That kind of thing that you see around the time you start skating, you never forget. Who was your first sponsor?

T: A skateshop in Aobadai called Independent. It was a shop run by Katsu (Legendary skater in Japan, Katsu Akiyama) at Be'-in Works. The thing is, I held a skate contest at my high school's culture fest. Katsu was the judge and I won the contest, which led me to ride for Real in Japan. Then one of my friends from school started working at Be'-in Works. There he started a brand called Terra Firma and I had my first board. So looking back, everything was connected.

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V: Sounds like everything is going well so far. You were on METROPIA too, right?

T: Before that I was ranked 1st in AJSA contest series, became their authorized pro and got hooked up with an apparel brand called HOMLESS. Then METROPIA (skate crew / apparel brand in Tokyo started around in the early '00s) started. It was formerly called QUEENZ though. They opened a store called Asanoha in Harajuku and let me work on apparel projects and had me work at the store.

V: So you learned about the know-how of the industry while pursuing skate career.

T: That's right, I got to learn how to design. When I was in high school I used to visit an art studio so I decided to go to an art school. I met Takahiro Morita (Director of FESN) there. I had my board with me all the time so I'd skate at Akiba and Shinjuku after school. I'd go filming with Morita too. Then I met KE (Former METROPIA director / Current VHSMAG self-claimed intern) through him. So again, everything is connected.

V: METROPIA had a good crew of skaters. They were all so young, is there any chaotic story you can share from back in the day?

T: Chaotic... Everyday was chaotic... I was helping my family business so I couldn't really go on tour with them. I could only meet up mid-tour and spend a day or two. They were all... I mean, it was really crazy... (laughs). I lot of things I can't say here.

V: I see. So what happened after Asanoha closed?

T: It seemed apparel was the only thing for me, so I started working for a denim production company. During then Shin Okada (OG skater) asked me to help his brand, Push Connection. Then I started CHALLENGER in 2009.

Definitely a dream come true. I was stoked on all of them.

V: Christian Hosoi, HUF, DC... You've collaborated with many brands as CHALLENGER. What's it like working with skaters that you admired as a kid?

T: Definitely a dream come true. I was stoked on all of them, especially HUF. They contacted me. I went to the US and had a meeting with Keith Hufnagel... I got so nervous (laughs). I got to do a collaboration with HUF twice so that was amazing. Hosoi was awesome too. I got an offer to work with Hosoi through a guy at DC, and everything went super smoothly. From there we did a collaboration with DC. I used to ride for DC Japan back in the day so it made sense.

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V: All the offers came from them, that's pretty rare in the skate industry in Japan. Your bandana exhibition Bandana Lyze is going well too, right?

T: Bandana was the first thing I ever designed for CHALLENGER. Then I'd design bandanas every year. We had an exhibition a couple years ago and had the original artwork of the bandana. Then I got an offer to do a show from a dealer in Malaysia, and at the same time I had another offer from a dealer in Japan. So I thought it'd be nice to do an exhibition tour. We did it in Japan and Malaysia, then went to LA and Hong Kong. I'm taking it to Seattle and San Francisco next.

I wanted to express how skating is fun through her.

V: Let's talk about the video part you just came up with. How did this come about?

T: Well, CHALLENGER is not a skate brand but we did collaborations with HUF and DC, and also we make boards. So I thought it's be wack if I didn't skate and come up with a video part. I broke my blade bone so it took two years. I just kept filming only in the morning. It was to not interfere with my family time, but I wanted to make something that feels good when you watch it.

V: Do you have a concept?

T: A dancer appears in my part and she represents skating; I wanted to express how skating is fun through her. All the photos you see in the intro is the history of our skate life. This video part is dedicated to E-San who passed away last year... He taught me everything about skating and he was the one who got me to skate in contests. I owe so much to him. He gave me footage before he passed away and they're in my part.

V: What's the most special thing from the part?

T: I'm doing the same trick at the same spot as E-San. That's the most special thing to me. It was around this time of last year, when I'd visit him at the hospital. I saw that footage on VHSMAG's Instagram and thought it looked awesome. I was skating and went to that spot alone to try it, but couldn't even come close to landing it. I texted him right away and this was what he told me from the hospital bed. "Go faster! Bring your buddies and try it with good vibe!!" I kept trying that day but I couldn't make it. I really wanted to do that same trick... so I went back and finally got it. I couldn't make it in time and couldn't tell him that I made it, but I'm sure he's watching it in his afterlife.

E-San was always charging. I learned the willingness to take new challenges.

V: Was there anything you learned from him?

T: He was always charging at contests. He wasn't interested in just doing tricks that you can do. He was always challenging. "I don't want to win with a safe run." He was alway saying this. So I guess I learned the willingness to take new challenges.

V: Literally CHALLENGER. What's the story behind the title LOVEFUL HEIGHTS?

T: I asked him his favorite word before he passed. He said "selfless love." I couldn't get this off my head. Then I was watching this movie and at the end, there was this phrase "Lovefull Heights." I thought "this is it."

V: And the music was made by the world-renowned Hiroshi Fujiwara.

T: We were having a meeting and I told him that I'm filming a video part. He was like, "I'll make you the music." I didn't take it seriously at first but he really did make one and gave it to me. I was so honored and blown away. This was about a year ago. I was trying to figure out how to use the track to the fullest and this editing is what we came up with.

V: It sounds like you just did you and stayed true to yourself, and people came gathering around you.

T: I think I'm just lucky. You know, like the skateshop in my neighborhood was affiliated with Be'-in Works... Everything started from there and met E-San right after... I was doing the things I love and everything started connecting.

V: That's awesome. Let's wrap this up. Anything lined up in the near future?

T: I have the Bandana Lyze show in Seattle and I've also got other offer from overseas. So Bandana Lyze is going to continue. I get shoes from New Balance Numeric so It's be nice if we could do something together. Other than that, I'm just going to keep concentrating on CHALLENGER.

Name:Satoru Taguchi

Date of birth:August 15, 1975

Blood type:A



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